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Joe Brolly defends former hurler who provided reference for child abuser Tom Humphries

Disgraced former Irish Times sports journalist Tom Humphries, who was convicted of defilement of a child.

FORMER Derry footballer and GAA pundit Joe Brolly has said it is "madness" that Donal Óg Cusack resigned from his job as Cork coach after it was revealed he gave a character reference to a convicted child abuser.

Irish Times writer Tom Humphries was jailed at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court earlier this week for two-and-a half years for grooming and sexually abusing a teenage girl.

Mr Cusack, resigned as senior hurling coach and stepped down from the board of Sport Ireland this week, following a public backlash when it emerged he provided a character reference to the court on behalf of the disgraced sports writer.

Stepping down from his position he said: "I absolutely condemn the crimes he has committed. I cannot begin to imagine the terrible suffering of the victim.

"I apologise for any hurt or offence caused by my action. My intention was to help a human in a dark place who asked me for help."

Donal Og Cusack, resigned as Cork coach after a public backlash to news that he provided a character reference to Tom Humphries.

Sunday Times chief sports writer David Walsh also wrote a character reference for Humphries. In a statement he said that he "unequivocally" condemned Humphries’ actions but said he believed a “friend is there through thick and thin”.

Mr Brolly, who is also a practising barrister, said that there was no reason for Mr Cusack to leave his job as coach, blaming the "moral outrage mob" for driving him from his post.

Read more - Analysis: Tom Humphries social standing was an aggravating factor not a mitigating one

Speaking on RTE's Today with Sean O'Rourke radio programme the former Derry county player said: "Compassion can be qualified. I think of the Pope for example washing feet of young offenders in an Italian prison recently, including sexual offenders.

"I don't think anyone is condoning paedophilia, and I don't think that Dónal Óg was for a second condoning paedophilia, I can't understand why he has resigned or apologised for standing by a friend.

"It's very important that these things are dealt with in a civilised way because once you hand it over to raw emotion then that's tantamount to tyranny".

Speaking to the Irish News yesterday Mr Brolly said he stood by the comments, adding; "References are common place in every type of case. Very few human beings have no redeeming features.

"Does anyone need to repeat that peadophilia is a grave offence destroying lives? That doesn't mean this public furore from the moral outrage mob should be allowed to stop people from making reasonable comments or logical contributions.

"And the outrage is a fad, it's temporary and next week they'll have moved on to something else.

"There's enough human misery and pain in these cases already, this can only be damaging for the victim.

"In some cases a reference is useful and important. The judge said in this case they were relevant.

"Had this case been heard here (Northern Ireland) he possibly would have got twice the sentence he received but that's a matter for the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) in the south.

"You must be careful to keep a balance here and allow the courts to do their job," he added.

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